Coronavirus case numbers keep rising statewide due to the delta variant and vaccine “breakthrough” cases, and local schools have not been spared.
As the state works to roll out vaccine doses for 5- to 11-year-olds this month, the average daily case rate for that age group in New Mexico last week reached its highest point at more than 60 per 100,000, according to recent pediatric reports from the New Mexico Department of Health.
Santa Fe Public Schools counted 40 more cases on campuses between Monday and Wednesday evening — the highest number seen in such a short span this school year.
The district cases reported this week were diagnosed between Nov. 1 and Wednesday. Trouble reaching the families of those with close contacts to cases can lead to delayed reporting of numbers, district spokesman Cody Dynarski said.
Of the 40 newly identified cases, 39 involved students and one involved a staff member. Among the students were five at Wood Gormley Elementary School — and three of the Wood Gormley cases likely were related to a previous case on campus, according to the district.
Twelve cases involving students diagnosed at the small east-side school since Nov. 2 have resulted in 36 identified close contacts, Dynarski said.
Not all of the 36 students and staff members who were identified as having been exposed to contagious COVID-19 cases will need to quarantine, based on their vaccination status, according to state guidelines.
In a recent email, Dynarski said the cases had not derived from the same classroom, and that a possible increase in activities outside of school, such as birthday parties, might be fueling the increase in cases at Wood Gormley.
The rise in cases at Wood Gormley comes after an entire class of first graders had to quarantine and half tested positive in late October at Acequia Madre Elementary.
The district did not account for four of those cases in its regular news releases, Dynarski said, because four of the students who contracted COVID-19 weren’t contagious on campus.
Some parents fear the source of the spread was a teacher who tested positive Oct. 27, shortly before resigning. The district will not release staff members’ vaccination status due to privacy policies.
An employee at Capital High School died Tuesday, the district said Wednesday; Dynarski did not say whether the death was related to COVID-19.
On Wednesday night, the district announced two students at Aspen Community School, four at Capital High, one at Acequia Madre, two at Atalaya Elementary, two at Amy Biehl Community School and one each at Ortiz Middle and E.J. Martinez Elementary tested positive between last week and this week.
The district also announced Wednesday that three Nina Otero Community School students tested positive between Monday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday, in addition to the Wood Gormley cases, the district announced three students at Gonzales Community School, four at Carlos Gilbert Elementary, four at Santa Fe High, two at El Dorado Community School, one at Amy Biehl Community School and one at Milagro Middle School tested positive between last week and this week.
On Monday, the district announced two students at Ramirez Thomas Elementary also tested positive, and that a student at E.J. Martinez Elementary tested positive after being on campus last week.
Finally, a staff member at El Camino Real Academy tested positive Tuesday after being on campus Monday, according to the district.
In a Wednesday news release, Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said vaccinations were the “most powerful tool” against the virus, in anticipation of the district’s first vaccine clinic for 5- to 11-year-olds.